Tag Archives: Hollywood

Dancing With The Stars (or A Workout Friends Hangout)

I haven’t watched “Dancing With The Stars” since the beginning, but I have been interested in this current season. The son of my late acting coach is one of the stars this season and I was so excited to get to see him on the show. And as soon as the cast for the current season was announced, I went online to try to get tickets. I was put on a wait list for tickets and was hoping I’d get tickets in time to see Chris on the show. Sadly, he was eliminated after the first week and right after that I got the email that I could now get tickets.

Even though Chris was eliminated, I figured it could be really fun to go to a taping. I’ve been to many tv tapings before, but I never had been to a live show. I knew that it would be really cool to see how everything happens during the commercial breaks and decided to get the tickets and then just enjoy whatever stars were still in the competition at that point. I asked around to a couple of friends to see who could come with me, and 2 of my Orangetheory friends were able to go! So it was Orangetheory night at “Dancing With The Stars”!

The way that all tv tapings work is that they give out more free tickets than there are seats. They assume there will be no shows (or in my case I ordered 4 tickets and only needed 3) so they ask you to get there early to try to get in. We got there about an hour before we were supposed to be there by, and that ended up being perfect for us. Even though we heard the speech multiple times that not everyone would be let inside the studio, the 3 of us ended up being the last 3 who got in! It’s so crazy that we were the cut off point, but I’m so glad we made it!

There were no phones allowed inside the studio so I don’t really have that many photos from the taping. We were in the first balcony toward the side behind the judges. We had some moments where the view was blocked, but we could see most of the stage. And when we couldn’t see things there was a tv monitor that we could look at so we could see what it looked like on live tv. I know so people want to be seen on tv when they go to tapings like this, but I didn’t care to be on tv. The only time you could almost see us is when they showed the entire audience. But unless you knew where to look, you’d never see us.

Yeah, you can barely see the 3 of us between those red arrows.

When I got my tickets, I didn’t know what the theme for the show would be. But it ended up being Disney night and that seemed so perfect to me! Each of us had Glow with the Show Mickey ears to wear during various parts of the taping. I was so excited about that because I never had those ears before. But when the taping was done we were told that we didn’t get to take them with us. Oh well. I only wish that I didn’t have to turn my phone in to security before going into the taping so I could have taken photos with the ear. They were super cute!

The advantage of going to a live taping is that you know exactly how long it would be (unlike going to a sitcom taping where it can be 5 hours for a 22 minute show). Neither of my friends watch “Dancing With The Stars” and I think they were a bit worried that being there for 2 hours would feel like a long time. But it really flew by! All the dances were so amazing and there were a couple of live singing performances at the show as well. And of course, I loved the music because they were all Disney songs. I knew pretty much all the songs and was excited to see how the dances matched with the songs.

And while the dances were awesome, I did love watching the crew during the commercial breaks to see how quickly they changed over the set. There was a big clock on the screens during the commercial breaks so they knew exactly how much longer they had to do everything. They were super efficient and you can tell that they practice a lot to do the set changes in the time they had. And while the show was live, it was neat to see the choreography that the cameras had to do. There was a lot of work with a steady cam, but it was also interesting to see how the stable cameras worked with the steady cam and to see the camera work on the floor and then look up at the tv screen to see how it looked for tv. I know that I’m a bit of a nerd with the behind the scenes stuff like that, but it really is amazing how much work the crew does to make everything look as perfect as it does on tv.

Once the live taping was done, we were excused from the studio pretty quickly. It took a bit of time to get our phones back (the security team was super organized but there were so many of us in line to get phones) but we were quickly on our way out of the studio. Even though we were only in the taping for 2 hours the entire time including being in line was about 5.5 hours. It was still a shorter day than most tv tapings, but it was still a good chunk of time.

Even though Chris isn’t a part of the “Dancing With The Stars” season anymore, I have been watching the show this season and will continue to watch this season to see who wins. There are a lot of amazing dancers and stars on the show still and I’m excited to see what dances come up next! And if I get another opportunity to go to another live taping, I’d probably do it. It was a fun thing to do and I know I have other friends who couldn’t go this time but would love to go with me!

Hollywood Half 5K (or It’s Hill Time)

I feel like I had done so much preparation for this 5K. After doing a run/walk 5K for the first time last year, I knew what I was capable of and I wanted to push myself to see what I could do 6 months later. I knew that I could do more than what I had done the last time and I wanted to makes sure I prepared myself the best I could. I worked on my endurance a lot during my workouts at Orangetheory so I could run longer during my intervals. I started to run on inclines to prepare myself for the crazy hill. But even with all that preparation, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do at this race.

I tried to keep my nerves down while I drove to the race bib pickup. It was in a different place than before so it was a bit of a longer drive for me. But there was a  meter with time left on it right by where we had to go, so I took that as a good sign. I got my race number and got back into my car so I could get home, have some dinner, and get to bed nice and early.

I usually don’t have too much trouble sleeping before a race, but this time I really struggled to fall asleep. I went to bed around 9:30 and read for a little bit. By 10:30, I turned off my light and tried to fall asleep. For some reason, I just couldn’t get my brain to shut off. I was tossing and turning and just couldn’t fall asleep. Around 2am, I finally fell asleep but since I had to get up at 4am I didn’t get as much sleep as I had hoped.

I wasn’t feeling too tired when I got up, so I tried to stay positive and hope for the best. I got my stuff together, drank a little chocolate milk (I don’t do well eating that early but I don’t do races on an empty stomach), and got into my car to drive to Hollywood. And as soon as I opened the front door of my house, I noticed that the ground was wet and it was still drizzling. I knew that there was light rain in the forecast, but it hadn’t started when I went to bed so I was hoping it was wrong.

It was raining or misting the entire drive there and I thought that maybe it would be like last year where it was raining until the race started but during the race it wasn’t. And that’s exactly what happened! It was misting until it was time to get into the corrals to line up but I didn’t have to deal with the rain during the race at all!

It seemed like the race was a bit smaller than it’s been in the past, but that was fine with me. There was still a great energy in the starting area and I was getting really excited as we started to get ready to go.

I tried to stay as excited as possible but the idea of trying to run on the hills was still making me nervous. But I put a smile on my face and got myself as mentally prepared as I could be to start.

The race started super prompt this time and they were letting the corrals go much quicker than they have in the past. I was in the 5th or 6th corral and I crossed the starting line at 6:15am (the start was at 6am). And as soon as we started we made a turn to go down the first hill.

I had set my watch intervals to be 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. I had every intention of sticking with that as much as I could and it went really easily at the beginning. Of course, running downhill isn’t too bad. But even my run back up the hill toward the starting line wasn’t that bad at all. I was sticking with my intervals and feeling pretty great. I was a bit tired, but not nearly as bad as expected. And before I knew it, I got past the 1 mile marker.

And then the big hill was in front of me. It happened to be part of my walking minute when I started the big hill, but as I did it I realized that I just wasn’t going to be able to run up it. Thinking back now (and knowing that it is supposedly a 3.5% incline), I probably could have done it. But at the time it seemed impossible. So I decided that I would ignore my intervals during the hill and I would walk up but run down. That did work ok with me although I know that my walk uphill probably should have been faster.

As soon as I was at the bottom of the hill I got back on track with my intervals and a few minutes later I was at the turnaround (which is close to the 2.5 mile mark). After the turnaround I was feeling really great and got to the last little hill of the race. It starts as a downhill so I decided to run that entire thing and walk up just like I did with the big hill. I really wanted to stick with my intervals, but I knew that I needed to do what felt right for me in the moment.

After getting up that last hill, it was pretty flat from there to the finish line and about only .2 miles left. So I started running and decided that I wasn’t going to stop until I crossed the finish line. I glanced at my watch and knew my time was going to be close to my PR so when I turned the last corner and saw the finish line I took everything I had and sprinted to finish as fast as possible.

I stopped my timing watch as soon as I crossed the finish line but it took me a minute or two to calm down and catch my breath before I could really look at what it said. I went into this race knowing that it is a tough course to PR on because of all the hills. I knew that even though I was running more than I did the last time, I also walked on hills which is slower than my normal walking intervals. So I was pretty shocked when I looked down to see that I PRed by 14 seconds!

14 seconds isn’t a lot, but it’s something. And on this course I know I’ve been slower because of the hills. When comparing this race to doing the race last year, I improved by about 11 minutes. When comparing this race to the best time I had on this course, I improved by about 9 minutes. That’s insane!

After I got my medal and had my timing chip cut off my shoes, I ran into Ken who is also known as the Free Hugs Guy! Ken is the director of this race and I was so excited to see him! And of course, I had to get my hug from him.

I wanted to see what my official time was, but they were having some issues getting the official time sheets printed. So I decided to wait in line to take a photo with my medal in front of the step and repeat. It took a bit of time, but I had time to kill so it was perfect.

I think my expression says it all. While I hoped to get a PR with this race, I knew that reality might be different and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. And then I surprised myself by not only kicking butt with the longer intervals and dealing with the hills, I did get the PR I was dreaming of!

My official time was exactly what my watch said (which made me happy to know I’m getting better at timing with my watch) and I started to walk back to the start line where I parked my car. I could have taking the subway one stop like I have in the past, but I decided that my legs needed the stretch and the walk would be good for me.

The next race I’m planing on doing will be the Hard Rock Cafe 5K which is probably about 6 months away (they haven’t announced the next race date just yet). But now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do 2 5Ks with mile times under 16 minutes, a few of my friends want me to go for a Disney race. Doing a Disney race has been a dream of mine, but I know they have 16 minute mile restrictions and I couldn’t get under that. But now I can and it’s time to think more seriously about doing a Disney race. I’m also debating if I want to do the 10K as another challenge for myself, but that’s still something I need to think about and see how I feel over this year.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better 5K race. I never knew that adding running to my races would make them so much better. I’m not struggling as much as I have before and it is making me think a bit more about adding some other races back in. As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll add any more races this year. But I’m thinking about it and seeing how my body feels as I push myself more in my workouts. But even if I just keep doing 2 races a year, that’s enough for me to prove to myself that I am getting stronger and faster!

Finding Neverland (or An Unexpected Musical Experience)

This past week was time for another show in my Pantages season! And this time, we were seeing “Finding Neverland”. I was looking forward to the show for a couple of reasons. First, our season picks up now and we have a show almost every month now! Also, our group just decided to renew our season tickets for the 2018 season, so I know that we have so many musicals in our future. Going to the shows make me so happy, and I’m just glad I have an awesome group of friends to go with me.

Originally our tickets were for this past Sunday. But since it was Oscar Sunday, none of us wanted to drive to the theater (close to so many road closures) and we all had plans that day. We tried to find a date that we could switch our tickets to that worked for all 4 of us, but we weren’t able to make that work. So 3 of us went together this time (the 4th person went the day before the rest of us did). None of us knew what to expect for the show. I think the most that we all knew was the show is about JM Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan.

Since we didn’t go on the night our tickets were originally for, we had slightly different seats. We were still off to the side, but we were much farther back than normal. This might have been the furthest back I’ve sat since getting season tickets, but it was still a good view and I think we didn’t miss anything by sitting in the back.

We were talking about how much our friend had liked “Finding Neverland” the night before, but we were all pretty curious if we would enjoy the show as much and what would happen. And once the lights went down, I know all of us were excited to see how we would feel about it.

I have a connection to Peter Pan that made me extra excited about the show. When I was in high school, I was in the show (although I don’t think we did a musical version of it). I really wanted to play something awesome in the show, and I ended up being cast as the dog and crocodile. It was an interesting experience having to act while in giant mascot suits and not being able to say anything. I had some really fun memories of doing that show, and because of that Peter Pan has always felt special to me.

Seriously, this show was incredible! It was so magical and I was not expecting it be enjoying it nearly as much as I did. I’m probably a bit spoiled when it comes to musicals. I’ve gotten to see so many shows and have so many experiences. So to impress me takes a lot. And this show impressed me beyond anything I could have expected! There isn’t as much about the show Peter Pan as I thought there would be, but that is part of what made it great. There wasn’t much that I knew about before so it was all new to me!

During intermission, all of us turned to each other and I think we were all pretty speechless with how much we were loving “Finding Neverland”. I always hope that I will love a show I’m seeing, especially if I don’t know the show or what it’s all about, but it’s not always like that. But this show was just breathtaking and the cast was doing an amazing job. And we were all so excited to see the second act and couldn’t wait to see what else would happen.

And the second act didn’t disappoint at all. It was so emotional and it was a perfect ending for the show. We were all crying at the end and didn’t care that we might all have mascara running down our faces. It was the perfect musical to see and I’m sad that it’s only in LA for a short time because I would love to go see it again! There’s a chance I might make it to the show again, but I have to double-check the schedule and my budget to see if I can make it work.

I’m so glad that I got to see “Finding Neverland” and was so surprised by it. Many of the shows this season and next at Pantages are shows that I don’t know well so I’m hoping that I’ll have more pleasant surprises coming up. I know that not all shows can affect me the way that this one did, but I’m so glad that I had such a reaction to this show. I’ve loved so many shows in the past, but this one moved me more than possibly any show I’ve seen and I really appreciate that I got to experience it.

Another Screening (or Enjoying A Film Festival)

I just had the film festival that I run, and the film that I did last year was part of the comedy programing. It was cool to have us in the festival and to get to share our film with more people. It wasn’t the first time we screened publicly, but it was our first film festival. And while it did feel a bit odd to have the film in a festival I run (I have nothing to do with programming so it’s fine), I was still so proud to have a film festival laurel on our movie poster.

We have been busy submitting our film to multiple festivals, but many of them won’t let us know if we got in or not for a while. But we did hear back from another festival besides the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival and we found out that we got in! We got into the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and we screened there this week!

This screening was held at Regal Cinemas at LA Live, so it was going to be another screening on a big screen. And we were going to be in a block with other short films, so I was happy to see what other films were in our programming block and to support other filmmakers.

There was a pretty decent turnout for the screening. We were worried because it was on a weekday afternoon, but the theater was over half full and everyone was so excited to see the films. We were toward the end of the program, so I tried to relax and enjoy the other films that were screening.

I’m not sure if we were a block of short films or comedy short films, but it was an interesting mix of films. Some of them were a bit more out there than our film is (ours is pretty down to earth and realistic), but there were things that I really enjoyed with each of the films that were in the hour long program with us. When our film played, I couldn’t focus too much since I still don’t love to watch myself act. But I was very happy that we got a lot of laughs and some of those were in spots that we hadn’t gotten laughs in before.

Once the program was done, we headed out of the theater quickly since the next screening was going to start right after ours ended. There wasn’t a Q&A or anything, but most of the filmmakers were gathering right outside the theater. There was a step and repeat set up so of course I had to get photos with my writer/co-star and my director!

When we were taking our photos, we had some people coming up to us to tell us that they enjoyed our film. That was really nice and I wasn’t expecting it. I am really proud of our film and would be happy even if it was just for us and nobody else got to see it. But to know that other people are enjoying the film is amazing and really made my day!

I wish that I could have stayed at the festival longer and seen more films, but my schedule did not allow for that. I know there were so many short films to see and I really wanted to support my fellow filmmakers. I know it isn’t easy to get people to see short films and I wanted to see as many movies as I could. Hopefully if we get into another festival I can attend more programs and see all the films. It just wasn’t mean to be this time.

I still can’t believe that the film that we made is getting recognition. It started out as such a small project and it has continued to grow and grow. I am so proud of the work that we all did and I’m really hopeful that we can continue to get into film festivals so more people can see it. We are already discussing working on another film together because we had so much fun with “Single Parent Date Night”. But until we do, I’m just going to enjoy having a great film out there and being able to look back at the hard work that we did.

Burgers And Broadway (or Another Musical)

I’ve seen so many musicals lately, but I still get so excited for each one I get to see! It feels like such an indulgence, but with a lot of shows I go to they are pretty affordable. With my season tickets at Pantages, they average about $40 a show. And considering I’m still not ordering delivery food, I think I’ve got the money to spend on shows since I’m not spending it on food (although I might be getting delivery food for Christmas but that will be the first time since the beginning of 2016).

My second show in the current season at Pantages was this past weekend and we got to see “The King And I”. Since our shows are at 6:30pm on Sundays, we try to meet up for dinner before the show. There are a bunch of places to check out right by the theater, but the last time we were there we noticed there was a Shake Shack now open and we said then that it would be our dinner before the next show.

I had never been to Shake Shack, but I was excited to check it out. I knew it would be a splurge meal and I had my brunch earlier that day. Fortunately the brunch was late enough that I was able to eat that for my morning meal and then have Shake Shack for dinner. We all got burgers and fries and of course we each had to get a shake. They had a bunch of options, but the sugar cookie one seemed fun and that’s what I got.

It was a pretty good dinner! I think my favorite part was the shake (the fries were a bit too salty for my taste and the burger was good), but it was too much food. I felt pretty full after eating and I was so glad I planned my food around the meal so it wasn’t a sickening feeling of being full.

After dinner, we walked down the street to get to the theater. It’s always pretty at nighttime there, but having a Christmas tree on the top of the marquee made it even prettier.

We got there a bit before the show was going to start, so we ended up taking a group photo by the step and repeat backdrop they had in the lobby. We tried to take a selfie, but there was no way to get all 4 of us in the photo. Thankfully, a woman saw us struggling with the photo and offered to take it for us!

I really love the group we have for season tickets this year. And we originally thought it would be just fine to have our seats in 2 separate rows (2 seats in front of the other), but it has actually turned out to be a pretty ideal situation! It’s easy to talk among the 4 of us before the show and during intermission. And we are loving where our seats are! Even though we are on the side, there is very little that is obstructed and we feel so close to the stage!

I’ve seen “The King And I” before and I’ve even helped to produce a production of it at a kid summer camp (that was an interesting adventure), so I know the story pretty well. But this was still such a magical production! The cast was very talented and the staging was really nice. I always find it interesting how touring companies do the staging for shows since they have to be able to move them from city to city. But this was a minimalist set that worked perfectly.

The show was just as amazing as I remembered it from the previous productions I’ve seen. It’s not a show that I have seen that many times, but it’s familiar enough that I can just sit back and enjoy the show and not need to think too much about it. And the entire audience seemed to be the same way because whenever super familiar songs were starting, everyone was swaying with the music (and fortunately nobody was singing and making it tough to hear the performers).

Our next Pantages show was originally scheduled to be on Oscar Sunday, but since we all have places to be that day (plus the theater is close to where the Oscars are held so we don’t want to deal with traffic) we switched our date for the show. It will be 2 months before our next show, but I’m ok with that. I’ve got lots of other awesome stuff happening and there’s always a chance I’ll find another musical that isn’t a part of my season with discounted tickets to check out.

I know I’ve said this so many times, but I’m so grateful that I have my season tickets this year and that I have amazing friends who are joining me for the shows. Before doing season tickets, I didn’t realize that I was missing out on so much happiness in my life. And I have a feeling I’ll be doing season tickets for so many more seasons in the future.

Another Night At Pantages (or Hedwig Take 2)

Even though we got to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Sunday with our season tickets for Pantages, I actually went back again on Thursday! It is extremely rare for me to see a show more than once (I think I’ve seen maybe 5 musicals more than once) and I’ve never seen a show that I wasn’t working in twice within a week. But we had a reason behind the craziness.

This current tour of the show stars Darren Criss as Hedwig and Lena Hall as Yitzhak (she won a Tony for playing this on Broadway). However on Sunday evening shows, Lena Hall plays Hedwig and Shannon Conley plays Yitzhak (and Darren Criss has the night off). We absolutely loved seeing Lena Hall as the star, but we were curious to see how Darren Criss played it and we wanted to see Lena Hall in her Tony winning role. So on the ride home from our show on Sunday, we found some cheap balcony seats for Thursday and decided we would see the show both ways.

Of the 4 of us in the Pantages group, only myself and Michelle could make it on Thursday (we never could find a night where 3 or 4 of us could go). So she and I dealt with the rush hour traffic, managed to find a meter to park in which was $13 cheaper than the lot we normally park in, and decided to get some dinner before the show.

We had dinner at a restaurant near the theater and both of us were so excited to be seeing the show again. We kept saying how crazy it was that we were back, but we had such an amazing time on Sunday that we were ready to go again. Plus, both of us were still feeling a bit overwhelmed and saddened by the election and how people on both sides have been acting. We needed this escape and it was the perfect thing to have planned.

Our seats during our season tickets are on the right side of the audience almost all the way to the side but very close to the front. We do have slightly obstructed views, and the way the set is done for this show it was more than slightly obstructed, but we love our seats. We can see so much and being able to see the expressions on the actors is really fun. For Thursday’s show, we were up on the balcony where we were about halfway up and all the way over to the left side. So we figured that whatever was obstructed on Sunday could be seen this time. Even with our seats being high up, we couldn’t stop being so excited to see the show again!

hedwig

Overall, the show was really great. Since when I went on Sunday I was a bit overwhelmed (it was the first time I had ever seen the show), it was nice to be able to relax a bit and pay more attention to the show this time. It was interesting to see the differences between how Lena Hall and Darren Criss play Hedwig. And while the script and jokes are pretty much the same, there were some really funny parts that were about Trump winning the election that were really great. And seeing Lena Hall in a role that won her a Tony was just incredible. I’ve never had the opportunity for any shows I’ve seen before and that felt so special to me.

The only real negative part of my time at the show this time was the woman sitting next to me. I don’t know why she felt this was ok, but she took off her shoes during the show and had her bare feet out. And unfortunately for us, her feet didn’t smell nice. I was breathing through my hair for the first half of the show and Michelle found some perfume in her purse for me to use. I sprayed it under my nose and then on my hand so I could smell my hand when I needed to. I thought about saying something, but I figured that if someone feels that doing that is appropriate wouldn’t care or put her shoes back on.

But we did have another funny experience at the show this time. The female usher who was in the section we were sitting in really was into the show! She was doing a lot of restrained dancing during each musical number (you could tell she didn’t want to move too much and distract people). Seeing someone so into a show is just fun and made things seem ok in the world again when in reality there is so much uncertainty.

I’m really glad we got to go back to see the show. I wonder what my opinions would have been like if we saw Darren Criss in the lead first, but I feel like I still would have wanted to see both versions of the show. While it is the same show, it did feel like a totally different experience with how each of them played the role and created the world of Hedwig.

Our next Pantages show is in December, but there have been more musical experiences since this! Shockingly, last week I saw 3 musicals and it was amazing! And my 3rd musical of the week will be in tomorrow’s post!

More Musicals! (or Another Season At Pantages)

Earlier this year, the Pantages announced the 16-17 season for musicals. This past season I didn’t have season tickets (I did the Black Friday deal instead) but I had them the season prior and it was so much fun! And most of the shows in the coming season looked pretty awesome so I was happy to order season tickets. Plus, the last show of this coming season is “Hamilton” and for what we paid for our season, single ticket buyers will be paying for that show!

We ordered our season tickets so long ago that it seemed like the first show would never get here! But this past Sunday, we finally had our first show of the season! This time, there are 4 of us in the group for the tickets and since we all live pretty close to each other we are planning on carpooling for the shows. We decided to go a bit early on Sunday so we could get some dinner before the 6:30pm show.

Fortunately there are a bunch of places to eat near Pantages, so we should be able to try a bunch of different restaurants over the 7 show season that we have. And most of them are quick service places so we should always have time before the show to go get dinner. While we were eating, we were talking a lot about how excited we were to have our first show of the season. The show was “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and while I saw the Tony Awards performance recently, I have never seen the show or the movie. I had no idea what I was in for, but I like to be surprised.

hedwig

When we bought our season tickets, it wasn’t easy to find 4 seats in a row in the price range we wanted to be in (we wanted the cheapest seats). So we ended up getting 2 seats in one row and 2 seats directly behind those. It worked out pretty well for us and we are pretty close to the stage! And being off to the side does cause occasional sight line issues, but it’s never been that big of an issue at any of the shows I had been to before.

pantages-group

It seemed like a lot of people in the audience were season ticket holders like us. And I’m thinking a lot of them didn’t really know what they were in for with this show (maybe they just got the season tickets to be able to see “Hamilton”?). While most of the audience seemed to enjoy the show, there were more walk outs during this show than I’ve ever seen. And I saw people covering their ears during songs as well.

Personally, I really enjoyed the show. I wasn’t expecting it to be a concert style show (I thought there would be scenes taking place in between the songs), but it was a nice difference compared to most of the musicals that I see. I thought the songs were all done really well and the set was fun to look at. While the tour of this show has been advertising that it stars Darren Criss, he doesn’t perform on Sunday evenings so we got to see Lena Hall in the lead role. She actually won a Tony for playing the other part, but she did amazing in the show!

I think we all agreed that this show was a great way to kick off a new season of musicals. We will pretty much get to see a show every month for the next several months with our last show being “Hamilton” in August. Each of the shows we get to see should be a really fun adventure and there’s only 1 show in the season that I’ve already seen (“Book of Mormon”) and I think all the other shows look really good.

Even though season tickets are a splurge, it really makes me so happy to go to the shows and I think that it’s so worth it. There have been so many times where I didn’t do something I wanted to because of the cost and I think that sometimes you need to put mental health above financial health. I love having these shows to look forward to and going out to more cultural events does seem to make the quality of my life so much better. So here’s to another full season of musical adventures!

A Night At The Bowl (or Movie Music With Friends)

I really was hoping to make it to a couple of shows this summer at the Hollywood Bowl, but after going to see “The Little Mermaid” earlier this summer I hadn’t made it back until this past weekend. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go, but time and money were limited this summer and things just didn’t line up.

But the show that I got to see this past weekend was the night of John Williams, which is one of my favorite shows ever! And I really lucked out with my tickets. I knew that several of my friends had already purchased tickets, and once I found out the night they were going and where their seats were I went online to look for tickets. There was only 1 seat left in their section and it happened to be the seat right next to them! So I bought that and we were all able to sit together!

Even though I was going to the show with several of my friends, because we were all coming from different parts of LA I ended up getting there by myself. I took the Bowl bus over (which is probably the easiest and best way for me to get there) and it just happened that we all arrived at about the exact same time! We met up right as we were going up the first set of escalators which could not have been timed better if we planned it!

Our seats were toward the top so we had a bit of a walk to get up there. I don’t mind the high up seats since they are cheaper and you get a great view of some of the fun things that happen at the John Williams show. And once we finally got to our seats, I was excited to see that not only did we have a great view of the stage but we had a great view of the Hollywood Sign as well!

Bowl and Sign

I usually don’t sit on that side of the Bowl, so seeing the sign (and the Griffith Observatory) was a treat for me!

The first half of the show was conducted by David Newman. He had some great stories to share with everyone and there were some fun musical tributes. There was a section that was just clips of Paramount movies to the score from “Forrest Gump”. They also played the first 10 minutes of “Star Trek Into Darkness” and had the orchestra play the score live. I really liked that (it reminded me of seeing “The Little Mermaid” earlier this summer) and that score is just so dramatic and wonderful to hear. I’m glad that was one of the parts for the show.

After intermission, John Williams came out. In the past, he conducted the entire show but I actually enjoyed seeing 2 different conductors playing music from movies I love. Even though the music sounds the same, there is just something different watching it live with a different conductor. And once John Williams came out, there was just one thing everyone was waiting for.

Star Wars

“Star Wars” music live really is the highlight of the show every year. So many people there bring light sabers with them (including several of my friends) and I love seeing all of them glowing while the music is playing. I usually hate glowing things at concerts, but this is different and special. It almost enhances the music when you see so many people enjoying themselves.

Besides hearing music from “Star Wars” we also got to hear the score from “Superman” which was something I remembered hearing at one of the shows a few years ago. It’s another beautiful score and I just sat back and enjoyed the music.

There are always at least a few encores at the show (John Williams really hams it up but it’s so much fun to see everyone screaming for him to come back out). The final encore every time I’ve been to the show has been the score to the closing scene of “ET”. And this year was no different. The score builds up to such a dramatic finish and you can just visualize the movie playing as the music is happening. And the closing of the score also lights up the inside of the Bowl with a rainbow (similar to how the end of the movie has a rainbow). I just love seeing it and it makes me happy every time.

ET

The show was really just as amazing as every other year that I’ve gone to see it and I’m glad that this has become a bit of a summer tradition. Since the season for the Bowl is pretty much done now, I doubt I’ll make it back there until next summer. But getting to go twice in a summer is still awesome and I’m glad that this is something I’m able to do pretty much every year!

The End Of My Black Friday Deal (or Cabaret At Pantages)

This week was the final show in the amazing Black Friday deal I got with my friend Dani for the Pantages this season. This time, the show was “Cabaret”. Dani and I really lucked out with our shows in the Black Friday deal and I’m so glad that we decided to go for it. Plus, our seats for each of the shows were so much better than any seats we’ve had before (they were significantly better than what our season tickets were like last season or will be for next season).

The big downside to this final show in the deal was that Dani couldn’t go. The entire run for the show was while she is out of the country, so she gave me her ticket to give to a friend. I asked around to see who wanted to come see “Cabaret” with me this week, and my friend (and amazing casting director) Jeremy Gordon said he could go with me. I met Jeremy through The Actors’ Network, but I hadn’t seen him in person for a very long time (but we’ve stayed in touch through social media). Jeremy and I have been saying for a long time that we were way overdue for a coffee hangout, so going to see a show together was pretty awesome.

Since it’s not cheap to park by Pantages, Jeremy and I carpooled there. It was nice to have someone in the car with me while I dealt with traffic, and it gave us a great opportunity to catch up on things. We also both realized that neither of us had seen “Cabaret” in its entirety before. I’ve seen most of the musical numbers and knew a lot about the story, but I’ve technically never seen the show before. I thought it was pretty cool that we were both first-timers at the show and we were looking forward to seeing what it was like.

Cabaret

I don’t want to give away a ton about the show in case some of you haven’t seen it, but it was incredible! The cast was really great and I think that it was beautifully staged (which can be tough for a touring show). There was a great mix of silliness and seriousness throughout the show. And while the sound seemed a bit too low (both Jeremy and I noticed it was a bit quiet and could be tough to hear at times), I was able to follow the story and got sucked into it pretty easily.

I did know a bit about how the show ended, but I didn’t know all of it and it took my breath away. It was very intense and while it was sad it was also beautifully done. And when the actors took their bows at the end of the show, there was no music from the orchestra (which I don’t know if I’ve ever seen before) and that added to the shock value of the ending and made it stick with me. I am glad I didn’t know the entire show because that moment was so powerful and I’m glad I was able to experience it at the show.

I think Jeremy will agree with me that the show was so well done and I highly recommend checking it out if you are in LA (or when it tours in your area). With the way that politics are going these days, this show is actually pretty relevant and current even though it takes place in the 1930’s. But even without the politics of the show, it was just great and I’m so glad that we chose it to be a part of our deal when we bought them back in November.

After the show, Jeremy and I took a silly selfie outside the theater to document our awesome hangout.

Jeremy Gordon

I’m so glad that Jeremy was able to come with me to the show. While I was sad that Dani wasn’t there, it was great to get to share the experience and my love of going to the theater with another friend. We’ve talked about hopefully going to another musical again in the future so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve promised to tell him if there is another Black Friday deal similar to the one I got so he could get some tickets for next season (it seems like the season tickets for Pantages are pretty close to being sold out so I’m lucky my group was able to get our tickets already).

With the exception of any shows I may see at the Bowl this summer, I most likely won’t be seeing another musical until my season tickets start in November. I’m ok with taking a break. I’ve only been going to the Pantages again in the past view years. Before that, there was more than a 10 year gap between shows there. But I’m glad that my friends have gotten me back into seeing musicals because they really do make me happy and make my life so much better.

Dinner And Carole King (or The Best Musical Ever!)

This past week was the 3rd musical in the Black Friday deal my friend Dani and I got at Pantages. It was actually the last show Dani can go to (she’s missing our last show but I’m bringing another friend to it) and our season tickets for next season don’t start until the fall. So this may be our last musical together for a while!

This time, we were seeing “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”. When I saw that this was a part of the Black Friday deal, I knew I wanted to see it. Dani wasn’t totally sure on it, but she trusted me and we got the tickets with our deal back in November.

We drove over to the theater together (we don’t usually take the train for weeknight shows because we get out so late and the train isn’t as fast as the freeway at night), but we got there early enough to grab some dinner before the show. We weren’t sure where we wanted to go, but we saw Greenleaf Chop Shop and it sounded good to both of us.

Greenleaf

Greenleaf is mainly a salad place, but when Dani and I sat down at the bar (the line to order at the counter was really long) we saw that they had way more than salads! We ended up ordering some spinach artichoke dip, chicken nachos, and goat cheese pizza to split between us. We also got some dessert because we felt like we needed something sweet too. I think it’s pretty funny that even though we were at a salad place, salad wasn’t part of our meal (technically Dani did order a side salad, but basically our meal was all non-salad foods).

After we were done with dinner, we walked down the street to the theater. It was a bit crowded because it was getting close to showtime, but we were able to get to our seats with time to spare.

Beautiful

We really lucked out with the seats we got for our Black Friday deal. For all of our shows, we are in the center orchestra. I don’t know how we got such great luck, but I love it!

While we were waiting for the show to start, we both were admiring how awesome the Pantages Theater looks. It’s really so beautiful and we were both saying how grateful we feel that we get to experience shows like this so close to where we live.

Pantages

Once the show got started, I knew that we had made the right choice seeing this show. It was so incredible! It was a jukebox type musical that reminded me of a mix of “Jersey Boys” and “Motown”. It had the storytelling elements from “Jersey Boys” but since Carole King wrote for so many musical acts there were a lot of different musical groups portrayed in the show similar to how “Motown” was.

The songs were all so great and every time a new one started you could hear the moment the audience recognized the song and everyone was excited to hear it. I recognized pretty much every song and I think they were sung so well and the choreography was spot on. Dani and I were both laughing and smiling so much during the show and I was just in awe of what we were getting to see.

Not only were the performers awesome, I loved the sets and costumes. The sets were beautiful and so impressive (especially considering this is a touring show). I loved how they were so simple but so elaborate at the same time. And the quick changes that the actors had to do in the show were almost like magic tricks! There was one quick change that was done on stage in view of all of us and I wish I could watch that part over and over again. And there was another quick change where the performers were wearing one thing when they walked behind a small wall, walked behind the wall to the other side, and emerged with a different outfit! It just made me so happy seeing all the cool creative things that were in this show.

But what I loved the most about this show was how it was the story about not giving up on your dream. It’s about going for what you love and making sure that you know at the end of the day you did everything you could to make that happen. And it was just inspiring to see just a small snippet of someone’s life when they have had a very long career in a creative pursuit.

I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that my favorite musical will be “Hamilton” after I get to see that next year in August, but I really don’t know how something can top “Beautiful”. This was just incredible and I’m even trying to figure out if there is a way I can go to see it again because I want to experience the show at least one more time (and I almost never see a show more than once).